- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 3, 2006

The Washington Nationals began what figures to be a busy offseason yesterday with some roster housecleaning, releasing six veteran pitchers.

The Nationals elected not to pick up options on the contracts for right-handers Brian Lawrence and Ryan Drese. The team also released right-handers Pedro Astacio, Felix Rodriguez and Zach Day and left-hander Joey Eischen.

All six, who are now free agents, battled injuries at one time or another this season, and only Astacio remained on the active roster for a prolonged stint.

Washington was hoping Lawrence would become a mainstay in the starting rotation after acquiring the reliable right-hander from the San Diego Padres in November for third baseman Vinny Castilla. But he had to be shut down after his first throwing session of spring training and soon after underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff in his right shoulder.

The team held a $5.7 million option on Lawrence for 2007 but instead bought it out for $125,000. There’s still a chance the 30-year-old could be re-signed to a low-salary deal loaded with incentives.

The same probably can’t be said for the five other released pitchers.

Drese and Day made a combined seven starts for the Nationals before suffering their own season-ending arm injuries. The team had a $3 million option on Drese but enacted a $50,000 buyout instead. Day would have been eligible for arbitration.

Astacio, signed during spring training to fill in for Lawrence, wound up missing three months with a forearm strain before going 5-5 with a 5.98 ERA in 17 starts.

Eischen, a favorite reliever of former manager Frank Robinson, posted an 8.59 ERA in 22 early season games before tearing his left rotator cuff, an injury that may end his career.

Rodriguez had a 7.67 ERA in 31 relief appearances sandwiched around a lengthy stint on the disabled list with a right shoulder injury.

Nationals go “green”

The D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission yesterday said it has authorized changes to the design of the Washington Nationals ballpark that will make it the first-ever “green” stadium in Major League Baseball.

The commission yesterday said it will submit an application to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program from the U.S. Green Building Council, which grades construction projects for their sensitivity to the environment. To achieve certification, the project must earn a certain number of “points” for environmentally and energy efficient design.

The sports commission has always intended to seek the LEED Certification, though it is not required.

Staff writer Mark Lemke contributed to this article.

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